The Florida state attorney’s office has yet to decide whether or not they have sufficient evidence to charge FSU quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault, but the investigation into the alleged incident certainly raises a lot of questions.
Winston is having a stellar season as a redshirt freshman, leading the Seminoles to a 10-0 record and No. 2 ranking in the college football polls. In fact, they are in position to challenge for the national championship.
Winston is also being considered as a favorite for the Heisman Trophy, the award given to the best player in college football. But that has nothing to do with character or behavior off the field, and Winston’s actions off the field are certainly under heavy scrutiny.
He is being accused of sexually assaulting a woman back in December 2012. The woman, a fellow FSU student, is no longer at the school.
DNA provided by Winston to police matched the sample that was taken from the woman’s underwear. Winston told police that he had consensual sex with the woman, so the DNA results were not a surprise.
On Thursday, Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, reiterated to the press that the sex was consensual and that the DNA results would not change his client’s defense of a possible sexual assault charge.
Patricia Carroll, an attorney for the family of the woman, came out on Thursday and said that her client was indeed raped.
"To be clear, the victim did not consent. This was a rape,” Carroll said.
In response to Winston’s claim that the sex was consensual, Carroll went on the offensive.
"Jansen stated that the DNA leak damaged his client's reputation," Carroll wrote. "Why would a consensual encounter damage his client's reputation? However, a rape would certainly damage his client's reputation. The 'consent defense' is too little too late and is clearly reactive damage control by Jansen after learning the DNA matched his client."
There are some major questions concerning how the Tallahassee police handled the investigation.
When the victim reported the incident to authorities, they launched an investigation. The victim identified Winston as her assailant in January. While Winston was questioned by authorities, no further action was taken at the time.
The Tallahassee Democrat (h/t USAToday.com) revealed that the victim was specifically told by a Tallahassee police detective, identified as TPD Detective Scott Angulo, to “think long and hard” about going after a student-athlete from FSU. Angulo suggested that because Tallahassee such a huge college football town, the victim would be “raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable” if she pursued a charge of rape.
In addition, Tallahassee police waited until November, 11 months after the alleged sexual assault, to report the incident to the state attorney’s office.
Does that sound like the case was properly handled?
Tallahassee Police Department Chief Tom Coe went on the defensive earlier this week, saying that his department handled the investigation properly. He said that the accuser didn’t press on with the investigation and that she wasn’t willing to bring charges against Winston at the time.
The family of the victim provided a two-page statement to the Tallahassee Democrat last week. In the letter, they questioned the actions of the police and contradicted much of what Chief Coe had to say.
There is no question that the Tallahassee Police Department and FSU itself are going to end up with big egg on their faces. The whole investigation smacks of collusion and protection of a star athlete.
The victim’s family would be wise to hire an independent investigator to look into the way the case was originally handled. Someone who doesn’t have ties to the state of Florida or the university. Jameis Winston may be one heckuva college quarterback, but absolutely no one deserves to get away with rape.